Built up only to collapse—your body over mine, into
mine, a hollow pentacle easily fallen into disrepair:
your tip still spilling as my body did drink. And if not
pentacle then star, therefore, dead by the time such distant
light makes clear that I am right to believe—you’re here; why
not?—that, for this while at least, witness is reason enough
to know I could touch, if I wanted, whatever I wanted. You
twinkle like a lullaby though more reliable; your afterfuck
joint the sole light on the patio. Red star. Flame brightens
then dulls its edge against your breath pulled up like a sheet.
I was mistaken—the sky is full of baby teeth luminescing,
teasing with late-arriving light. I want to be on time
when it is time, not sitting in my hunger for death like a doe
sucking on the last autumn leaf. Such impatience approaches
always-late, at different angles. I can tell when, exhausted,
your chronicling of night with smoke draws to a close:
brighter, brightest, then in orange phantoms to the ground
the final ashes of satisfaction. I’ve told you how you stink
of dying leaves, wet with rot and rotting faster in the wet
loam, after you’ve smoked out the sky. I am ready to go
to sleep but the stars, now without competition from your
herbed fire, seem brighter. Dead foliage cannot block
the up-sparks—finally, my hand unwrapping from around
your hips, extending toward the brightest, vibrating star.
Now it seems the whole sky is a shaking mess, lit ballpoints
crashing forward like trains off-schedule. Palm open, I block
them out. From here I can feel their rushing, tardy blaze. All
aboard. I cannot leave. I cannot stop looking at your face.
Romulus and Remus: Pascere
The boys peeking into the Cadillac’s tinted windows
know nothing of disguises. Have never seen a man,
bronzed, lower his window, exhaling cigar smoke
to trellis their eyelashes. Lower now, the window
at the bottom of its decline, and the man’s finger
points and curves to summon one of the boys
to get inside. Knuckles deranged with opulent stones
hypnotize the youth to come. The boy is hungry today
as he was yesterday and the days before. Dirty, angry,
he enters at the envy of his peers who stone the car
as it veers beyond the dust they call their homes.
When he returns, someone will call him beautiful—
the boy well-muscled in an Italian suit. His face will
become legend: hydrants will burst as he walks by;
infants will die instantly when they see his slicked-
back hair, square-toe shoes of glazed cobra skin.
But this will be years after he is taken, taught leather
swings, the language of bridle and metal bit. The boys,
now men, will see the suit, the clean-shaven cheeks
and give him their sons, or themselves. They will
remember their calloused soles, lice in their scalps
parted like fjords; remember his hand reaching inside
the Cadillac, smoke licking foreshadow down
his chest. What now with the scene, the boy-man
closing in, welcomed and therefore home?
What name to give this moment deftly carved
in the pastoral of, if they are beautiful, longing;
if not, then them conjoined, faltering: lambs without
a shepherd, one lamb not anymore a lamb?
Art by Evie Lovett
Phillip B. Williams is an American poet. He is the author of the chapbooks BRUISED GOSPELS, BURN, and THIEF IN THE INTERIOR.
Phillip B. Williams